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Bruce, Alison - 'The Calling'
Paperback: 320 pages (July 2012) Publisher: Robinson ISBN: 1780333838

This is the third book by Alison Bruce featuring Detective Constable Gary Goodhew and set in Cambridge. Gary is single, obsessed with police work to the extent that he lives so close to the station, he can see it from his flat, and spends quite a bit of his time there. The story begins with the disappearance of a woman, Kaye, who hasn't been seen since she went to buy a birthday present for her grandmother's eightieth birthday. Kaye's mother is worried, as it's out of character for her, and Gary is sent to investigate. But in interspersed chapters, we discover that Kaye is lying near a lake some miles away, still alive, but trussed up with rope and gagged, and unless someone finds her in time, she will die a long slow death. Meanwhile another, older girl, is watching a man (Pete Walsh) from a café, as he leaves Dunwood Insurance, where he works, with a girl, Paulette, on his arm. She thinks to herself that Paulette looks like she does, as do two other ex-girlfriends, Helen and Kaye, and then whispers to herself "but you're alive". What does she mean?

The investigation into Kaye's disappearance begins, and WPC Gully is again helping Goodhew to investigate the close family to begin with, as usually family members are involved in these types of cases. But after Kaye's disappearance is publicised, an anonymous woman calls in and talks to Gully, claiming that Kaye is still alive ‘at this point', but maybe not for much longer, and that the police need to talk to Pete Walsh. Is this the woman that's been watching Pete? What does she know? Is Pete Walsh involved, or does the woman have some other motive in implicating him? When Gary visits Pete, he claims he doesn't know anything, and that he doesn't know who would have suggested that he did, although plenty of his ex-girlfriends might be aggrieved enough to do so. Then Kaye's body is found, and a murder investigation is underway.

As the investigation continues, there is some conflict between Gary and his colleague Kincaide, who has his own opposing views. He seems to be such a thoughtless, heavy handed policeman, that it is sometimes surprising that he doesn't fall foul of the boss, DI Marks, more often. As usual, it takes Gary's unusual thoroughness and sensitivity to unravel the truth, and Gully plays a key role as a useful foil to Gary. Alison Bruce has developed an interesting set of detectives, and their interactions and insecurities make for entertaining reading. I have to say however that I thought the plot line in this book wasn't as strong as the previous two, and although the story is well told, I didn't quite buy the motivation and actions of the murderer. I'd not read any books by this author before this one, but I enjoyed the book enough to immediately go on to read the first two in the series. So, that has to be a recommendation!

Read another review of THE CALLING.

Michelle Peckham, England
August 2012

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 4/08/2012 14:02